Brief Reviews and Ratings of 16 Running Books (Read 58 times)

    I enjoy delving into reading about sports that I participate in so when I got back into running about 18 months ago, I proceeded to read quite a few books on the subject.  Here are my thoughts on the following titles and my ratings based on a 1-10 scale.  Does anyone have any recommendations for others?


    14 Minutes – Alberto Salazar

    I found this to be an absorbing read.  It was interesting to read of his family’s Cuban roots.  His intensity was remarkable but may have, by his own admission, shortened his career due to injuries and heart damage.  He had me convinced that he wasn’t a doper due to his reverence for his Catholic faith.  The latest evidence would indicate that he fooled many.

    Rating: 8


    Fast Girl – Suzy Favor Hamilton

    I remember her from my first foray into running 30 years ago when she appeared on a Runner’s World cover so I when I heard that she wrote a book many years later, I was intrigued.  The book certainly has its salacious parts but a good amount is devoted to running as well.  Overall, I enjoyed it.

    Rating: 7


    My Marathon – Reflections on a Gold Medal Life – Frank Shorter

    Shorter’s tone was serious throughout.  I think that’s his personality but also the subject matter of his childhood abuse would cause him to strike a somber tone.  I found it captivating to read of his emergence with the start of the running boom during that time period.  I like how he wove some real world events into his narrative.  His account of the Olympic terrorist attack was gripping.  His descriptions of various times when he was just consumed with training and living the life of a runner emerging as a world-class talent were fascinating.  He was also unusual in that he was mostly self-coached and enjoyed the intellectual exercise of planning his training.

    Rating: 9


    Run the Mile You’re In – Ryan Hall

    I respect that the man has a deep faith.  I thought there would be room for some of that in his book but he went way overboard in my opinion.  I did enjoy some of his thoughts on running but there was just too much religion for me.

    Rating: 4


    Let Your Mind Run – Deena Kastor

    This one really pulled me in.  It was fascinating to read of her journey and the difference that proper coaching and a change in her mindset made.  I found some of the mental stuff to be applicable in a practical way.

    Rating: 9


    Running Tide – Joan Benoit Samuelson

    This was actually a second reading of this book as I read it 30 years ago also.  I was hoping there would have been an updated copy but apparently Joan never did a follow-up.  It was only okay for me.  She seemed to jump around some and it wasn’t always easy to follow exactly where she was in her training.  I was struck by her insistence on training hard even knowing that it would lead to injury.  Studying her later career on Wikipedia indicates that she must have got a handle on her injuries because she posted some excellent times when she was older.  At the time of the book’s writing, she said that she limped when she walked and wondered how long she could continue to run.

    Rating: 6


    26 Marathons – Meb Keflezighi

    He wrote a different book that highlighted his beginnings that I may want to read at some point.  This one just specifically focused on his 26 competitive marathons but did weave some life events into the narrative as well.  Overall, I liked it.  It was interesting to read how he took lessons from each marathon and tried to incorporate it into his running career.

    Rating: 7


    Marathon Man – Bill Rodgers

    The tone of the book definitely comes across as authentically Bill Rodgers.  It was another interesting take on the genesis of the running boom in the 70s and how Bill contributed to it.  I wish more had been covered about his later career.  I was impressed how he overcame prostate cancer.  The writing itself left a lot to be desired.  It was rife with spelling errors (peaked instead of piqued!) and if Bill and his co-author didn’t know how to write properly, it should have been edited by someone who did.

    Rating: 7


    Pre – America’s Running Legend – Tom Jordan

    Press accounts of his life were painstakingly gathered to make this book as complete as possible.  I enjoyed it.  I liked how Pre’s personality came through.

    Rating: 8


    Running and Being – George Sheehan

    This was also a second reading for me having first read it 30 years ago.  I liked how it spoke to the deeper meaning that many of us runners take from the sport beyond just its physicality. I could relate to much of what he wrote about his personality and how running was such a good fit.

    Rating – 8


    Going the Distance – George Sheehan

    He wrote this in his final years while dying of prostate cancer.  The end was actually dictated to one of his sons who then completed the book.  My father died of this disease and I know I’m at risk for it so it held personal meaning to me.  George wove more philosophical thoughts into the narrative.  It was a melancholy book but I appreciated the insights it contained.

    Rating – 8


    Complete Book of Running – James Fixx

    This was another repeat reading for me.  Although some of the advice in it is outdated, it’s still a very enjoyable read.  You can just feel his enthusiasm for the sport and I especially liked the time devoted to the mental benefits.  I plan on getting his second book on running at some point as I remember enjoying that one as well.  It’s tragic that he met his end while running but at least it was an activity that brought him great joy.

    Rating – 9


    Running Past 50 – Gail Kislevitz

    This book went into the personal accounts of many older runners.  Some were more inspirational than others.  At 48 myself, I felt like it would be a good book to have read.  Many of the athletes were way, way over 50 and I had been hoping for more experiences of runners in their 50s.  This book was also rife with spelling errors and poor sentence structure/editing.  The author’s personal thoughts at the end were a highlight.  She spoke of the need to treat running with care and realized the importance of listening to one’s body.

    Rating – 6


    Galloway’s Book on Running – Jeff Galloway

    A mix of good and bad.  I agree with him on his less is more approach but found some recommendation such as the walk/run method to be questionable.  I can see that for early beginners and perhaps those returning from injury but not for healthy runners who are acclimated to the sport.

    Rating – 6


    Run Less, Run Faster

    The book is controversial but I have incorporated some of its elements into my own running and value the advice.

    Rating – 9


    Fast After 50 - Joe Friel

    I had actually read this when I was only a cyclist but reread it after taking up running.  It's loaded with great advice that can be used even if one is not racing.  It is slightly more geared to cycling but running is also prominent.

    Rating - 9

    Personal Records:

    5K - 20:07 ran in September 2021 (The second half split during the 10K run listed below.)

    10K - 41:10 ran in September 2021

    8 miles - 56:15 ran in November 2021

    Half Marathon - 1:39:06 ran in September 2020